This space is celebrating its 8th anniversary this month. Considering how fast the world moves, in blogger reality, I am feeling like an elder statesperson. Of all the bloggers who were my inspiration to start this space, only one is still standing as an almost-daily writer with only a handful more even still in existence at all. My first post in January 2008, was pure drek; then again, I have come a very long way as a writer. Writing in near anonymity for the first several years here allowed me to find my writing voice.
Since my last post, I have been inundated with requests from the mainstream media both locally and nationally to talk about Blackness in Maine, the Black Lives Matter Movement, the governor of Maine and so on. I have only responded to two requests, one from a Portland Press Herald reporter who somehow had my personal cell number and I happened to have answered the phone (as my ex said, how do these people have your number? Are they passing it around like a joint at a party?)…the other, a reporter at a publication that gave me my first chance to write professionally. So even though the rag has changed hands and isn’t even a shadow of its former self, I still have a soft spot for it…don’t ask.
As I shared many moons ago, the title of this blog was an inside joke, it was never meant to go anywhere because initially in my mind, this blog was just a hobby and I was not a particularly skilled wordsmith. Whether I am a skilled wordsmith is probably still up for debate and in reality this blog hovers somewhere between a hobby and a part-time minimum wage extra gig. However, one thing that has become clear is that this space speaks to people, whether it resonates or offends. It’s also put me in the increasingly awkward space of being asked to speak for people based off the fact that we share the same skin tone. It also has left me open for every angry white person to lash out at me and increasingly I do worry about my safety. A few days ago, I received the following email and I wish I could say that this type of email was a once-in-a-while occurrence.
My disclaimer is that I am a almost 48 year old, pink colored, resident of Maine.
I was born in Lynn MA, and grew up in Peabody MA.
I moved to NC for a couple years and have been in Maine since 05.
Per the US census, 95+% of Maine is white, 1.4% Black, and 77% of the US reports white, and 13.2 Black.
What I believed I have learned about you, from things I have found on the web.
You used to live in Chicago, a leader in gang/gun and drug violence.
You married a white guy, and you have two children.
You moved to Maine, which I assume was not for the culture, or climate, but for the job and/or safety.
You have not, short of words, been treated poorly since living here, nor been part of any drive by shootings that you may have back in IL.
You used to have a post about why there isn’t a more diverse population in the state, and you had speculated that once freed, the slaves went to where there were jobs and industry and a favorable climate.
Maine has none of those things. and I cant find that post anymore
You write, as not the focus of your blogs, but mention what I feel is the real reason of what is going on in the country/our state.
“Change and difference”
In MA and especially NC, my opportunity to interact with others that do not share my skin pigmentation, was much greater than here.
I agree that in NC, where walking around a mall was about a 50/50 black/white mix, it felt odd and I was uncomfortable.It was very different from anything I had experienced before..but like you speculate about Mainers (which I believe you and I are not…you have to be born here I think), once you get used to the look of the surroundings…It becomes normal….People are people, judged for who they are as individuals, once you get over the first impressions. My guess is, due to your pigmentation, you maybe felt discriminated against by everyone, but as you got to know people/they know you, hopefully a lot of that disappeared.
In reading the main stream media articles and now your blogs…I feel attached or shamed for the color of my skin. There are things saying “equal among all people but it isn’t”, but if it is a pool of 77 vs 13, how could everything be 50/50?
My folks did not have me to be part of an Arian nation, but merely to have children.
I have not been, nor been approached to go to anything “white power”
I found thru google the article about the idiots yelling hurtful words at you in Portland, but I cant understand your anger about the people watching.
It was just words, correct? And wanting people to do something about it…I am lost with what you would expect from them…run them down, beat them up, shoot them, arrest them? What did you want the people there to do? One person asked if you were OK, from words?
If I was there I would probably not been involved either because it is a tricky situation.
If I ask you if you are OK, then I am babying you and treating you different.
If I challenge the idiots in the car, maybe I get beat up or worse….over words
If it was a physical encounter, then yes 99% I am in it…but words…maybe 10% or less for me.
I haven’t researched or studied all of the race/religion/land conquerors of history…I just summed it up to every race/religion has tried to dominate and eliminate every other one thruout history…black/white/asian…it doesn’t matter…it was all bad.
I have been called tater in Cherokee NC, by native americans (silly me didn’t know what my distant relatives did to their distant relatives nor that it was aimed at me)
Whitey and cracker, in MA by dark pigmented people.
And no one was physically hurt after….
They felt the need to say something hurtful, because I am different looking than them….I get it. Their insecurities trying to hurt me.
I believe it is human nature for people to seek out and feel more comfortable with others that are similar to them.
We are evolved mammals, that if we look at all other species, they all do the same thing.
If you made it this far, great, thanks, I will get to my point.
I believe because you married a white guy, you must not be the racist you now appear to be in your posts.
Racism can be the other way too.
If your kids are from you and the white guy, most likely they will have the awesome tanned pigmentation that all white people seek.
Perhaps the next generation, if we follow the examples of you and your husband, will have a tanned appearance, and then it won’t matter where the past generations came from…we might all have similar appearances…Like Morgan Freeman told Anderson Cooper…he doesn’t want to be identified as “Black” or “African American”, he just wants to be Morgan, a US citizen.
Please help us heal as a state and country by using your BGIM pulpit as a message of “One idiot or carload of idiots yelling idiotic slurs, does not define all of us…the majority of pinkies are good and want the blended future of americans…and not all blacks are drug dealers from NY….but accept that some of the drug dealers are, the same as some whites are bad…but not all”
Yes PLP should not have said young white girls, but statistically he has a 95+% chance of it being accurate, there is not a large chance of it being another pigmentation.
I don’t believe the names he used were specifically aimed at a skin color. I grew up where most of the drug dealers/bad people were white…and they had these types of names also.
Sigh…what do you even say to this? Happy Anniversary to Black Girl in Maine! Thank you for reading and sharing this space with me and for trying to make this dusty rock just a little better in your own way.
Black Girl in Maine runs on love and reader-support, if you appreciate this space, please consider a one-time gift or becoming a monthly patron. Thank you.
24 thoughts on “Eight years a blogger…reflections and thoughts on this anniversary”
I just wish after living here all this time, you had achieved some glimmering that culture and history already existed in Maine before you arrived to shower us with your wisdom. We are not a blank slate that’s just been waiting for you to write upon. We have a long history here of people coming here from away, deciding we’re all ignorant and backwards and talk funny, and that therefore we, not you, never you, need to change. In your lingo, we’re very used to outsiders “othering ” us here. It’s been going on for centuries. Yet somehow you still seem unaware of this. Have you even ever read Sanford Phippen? Or any other Maine authors? Or any Maine history? You have consistently shown no sensitivity to the class, economic, and ethnic dynamics of the state, but impose your particular cultural construct upon us. Can you really wonder why we don’t find your thoughts compelling?
I’m not saying the “Maine way” is always the right way, but it has the same validity for us that the “Chicago way” does for the people of Chicago. If I moved to Chicago and wrote a column, then a blog, complaining about how predominantly black it is . . . well, I don’t think I’d last very long. And shame on me for expecting Chicago’s culture to be like Maine’s. Yet, somehow, you have the chutzpah to carve yourself a little niche doing it here. My challenge to you is to return to Chicago, devote your talents (which you insist are considerable) to working for the community there, and blog about that. I’m not sure you are tough enough to do it; it’s got to be a lot easier to stay here and make a living off of being spleeny about your chosen life in your chosen state, without ever bothering to learn anything about it.
On your amazing comment to Shay, “Have you even ever read Sanford Phippen? Or any other Maine authors? Or any Maine history? ”
Talking points —
1) While Sandy Phippen does write of the reaction of Mainers to outsiders and their lack of guilt when they steal from those “from away” …. particularly those rich that have moved into our coastal regions …. but have you read any of the poems of Leo Connellan ? Escaping to Connecticut from rock harden Maine …. he vividly tells of the hatred that Mainers have for themselves as well as those from “afar”. And writes of those like yourself that have “chips” on their shoulders .
2) This self hatred is compounded by the fact that Mainers are not taught their authentic history. The miminal history that is taught here with very rare exceptions is a watered down and sanitized version emitted from the descendants of the Mass. Puritans and their ally’s and enabled by the Maine Historical Society. You fault Shay but do your really know our history ? I doubt it ! For a beginning .. these dates should be imbedded into your memory — 1604, 1607. 1627 and 1691 and these persons and places , John Smith, St. Castine, Sir Gorges, Winter Harbor , York and Saco . Are they ?
LOL, ok I give up. All of you haters that have spoken for me and what I mean are correct. Every European decedent needs to right now forfeit life and end it because of something done in the past by others we had no control over…or as the highly intellectual witchsista wrote, buy me lunch to make up for these words.. Ya’ll are correct, I don’t get it..and I won’t follow this hateful site anymore…I’ll just crawl into a corner and die the way all of these peaceful loving people urge that i do…and that will fix all of america’s racial issues…no one communicate and everyone pale skinned just die …this site runs on hate, not love
I hope you have not given up.
Just to take you at your word, if you were wanting to be educated, you can do that yourself. The internet is a wonderful thing:
– the site of Wendy Jane, who posted above, would be a good start.
– wikipedia. And don’t just read the articles (which are almost always good beginnings), check out the links at the bottom. Terms to look up: African-American, race relations, Barack Obama, Jesse Jackson,
– Tanahesi Coates – anything he has written. get some titles on wikipedia!
– ‘The Autobiography of Malcolm X’ (ghost written by Alex Haley)
– ‘Roots’ by Alex Haley
Would others suggest some sites, etc?
To just quickly address my view on what you first wrote (I haven’t read Shay’s original article) : when any people yell words like that, it hurts. Worse, you don’t know if it could turn violent. And if it did, whether the other people, or the police, would protect you. Black Americans have to deal with that every day,
Let your LePage loving brethren buy you lunch.
This is not a hate site. It’s one that tells Whites the truth about their racism though. Being confronted with unpleasant, hurtful truths is in other hatred.
What you are so badly reacting to are Black women who are not giving in to you and your ahistorcal, counter-factual ideas about history and American racism. So the word you want is not “hate” but “uppity” as in “uppity nigger bitches who have the nerve to maintain they know way more about their lives, situations and hometown than I do and refuse to concede to my wrongness, White guy opinions on such.”
Let the doorknob hitcha where the good Lord splitcha.
“Being confronted with unpleasant, hurtful truths is in other hatred” should be “Being confronted with unpleasant, hurtful truths is NOT hatred.” And it should be “wrong ass White guy opinions.”
Auto correct won’t let me be great.
Then fucking die. Your just a Xenophobic opinionated pussy who gets all his info from television such as Fox News and CNN. Also you share similar mindset to Augusta and its rural/ suburb neighborhood residents. Most of the residents of the Kennebec are stupid because the education system is very lacking, half of them are conceived and raised by underage high school drop out parents; and they seduce themselves to fear from mainstream media.
Wow, yes, how do you even respond to something like that? Best not to even try, as that man’s perspective would not allow him to see any differently than he does. Congratulations on eight years of blogging. I am glad that Debby Irving introduced me to your blog and work–as I continue to look inward, and outward, from my 54 year-old white woman;s perspective at race relations and racism, your writings give me footing and a chance to say, yes, I am not alone, in trying to get through the muck of uncovering my own white privilege, being unafraid to speak up and ask questions when I hear other white people invalidating matters of racism, and express myself in my own (almost four year old) blog on what I call my obsession with race and connecting across color lines.
From reading the email, the guy seem like the typical City-Data forum poster.
Just read this post and all I can say about K4now’s comments is, Wow! This is a guy who just doesn’t get it in so many ways. I think he thought he was trying to be helpful, maybe? Count me as flabbergasted.
Still trying to get outside the bubble of white privilege,
Trying to be helpful yes. Don’t get it yes…ok explain it to me. Use specific examples please and not just main stream white skin color generic bashing. Help me learn.
Your a piece of shit. You are too much of a pussy to deal with people of color in Massachusettes and North Carolina, so you wee wee wee your ass to Maine because Maine falsely advertise itself as the safest state and it’s 95% White. If you can’t deal with Shay’s then go move to New Hampshire and Vermont, both of those state are white aswell!
Or he could move to Idaho, White AND White supremacists ta boot! His kind of people.
All credibility is lost as soon as you resort to swearing and name calling.
No, it’s not.
Really David helpful ? He sounds like one of these into your face types that just does not know just how out of it he really is ! But unfortunately he not unusual at all — in his New England backwardness. To just get “outside your bubble of white privilege” . Easy – just puncture a hole and step out. But in reality with your white skin —- you are always going to be extended those privileges that are denied to persons of color in the United States and as a male those privileges as well denied to women in the United States regardless of their color. With the demographic shift of minority majority emerging in the United States ….this shall hopefully by changing but it shall depend on the power of the new demographic to invoke change. After all enslaved Africans were actually the minority majority in the American south until recently.
i just love how folks still want to believe that all Black people come from impoverished (and not just economically) backgrounds, especially if they’re from a big city like Chicago. Apparently they’ve never dealt with Chi-bourgie, or they have, don’t know what to make of snobby, uppity Negroes, and then try to squelch us into their Negro box of poor, project-bunny trash. These are the people who want to believe that any and all Black neighborhoods are blighted communities and that Black people who grew up middle class only did so around White people (as if we only know middle class mores by imitating and being properly supervised by White people). They keep this limited view of Black people to protect the myth of their supremacy due merely to their Whiteness that their psyches and very senses of self rest upon. They truly do believe that the idea of middle-class Black neighborhoods ANYWHERE is a myth. They’d be so surprised that many of us come from places that wouldn’t even let them in the house unless they were there to install an appliance or fix it.
There is so much fuckery in that email. Dude couldn’t bring himself to call your “white guy” your HUSBAND. And the a-historical response to hurling racist slurs and people of color! The false equivalency! The willful misunderstanding of what racism is (hint: it’s more than name-calling and hurt fee fees) and how it ACTUALLY functions in our society, all so he can justify not being bothered to do anything about it. Hell, he admitted as much when he said he pretty much wouldn’t have done shit if he’d been around when those White cretins shouted that mess at you and your family. Guess what, he wouldn’t have done a damn thing if those White shits physically attacked you all right in front of him either. It’s easy to be a bad-ass with a hypothetical.
Sis, I don’t know how you do it. Here’s to good liquor!
uggg, sigh I wrote that email, am not an “angry white guy”, did not say anything racist. It was a personal email asking Shay for a back and forth dialogue to help me understand things from her perspective. I tried to disarm the situation by showing examples of bad things from my ancestors. I apologize for the grammatical errors, I did not expect to be publicly shamed over this. I have been to Chicago(research the gang violence, more than 1 homicide per day http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-chicago-police-violence-2015-met1-20160101-story.html),
I have friends who are darker, very successful, highly educated but none who are African American…they are just american and born here. I don’t see how the impoverished/uneducated opinion got formed. I did not write anything like that..but that furthers my point, anything can be spun to be racist.
I have friends who also have interracial relationships…sorry for leaving out Husband and Wife…it was implied when I said married.
To those bashing me about the Portand part, please find the article about someone calling Shay’s family “adorable”(which I took as racist) as they were walking the streets in down town http://www.pressherald.com/2015/04/06/incident-in-old-port-sparks-conversation-about-race-in-maine/ , when a car load of white guys yelled something at her as they drove by…and her son took off after them…then somehow I ended up following links to Shay lashing out at the other people that were also walking the streets that day that did nothing.” Black Girl in Maine @blackgirlinmain
A little girl in tears on a street after having a racial slur hurled at her family and only one person saw our humanity to ask r we ok. ” If you want to bash me for asking her what she expected of the bystanders…please put yourself in that scenario, shopping on a sunny day, when something was said to someone you didn’t know and tell me what you hero’s would have done? To the people bashing me over history, please do some research, every single race and religion, has tried to expand and wipe out every other…since the beginning of time…I know we are talking about our white ancestors atrocities to the African slaves children or relatives in this scenario…It was trying to explain…no one is innocent…all we can do is try to do better today…but the past happened and can’t be changed…..To the person walking into walmart and seeing the see of white….yes that was what I was trying to explain…it felt different…because everyone looked different. I was wrong about Morgan and Anderson…It was Morgan to Mike Wallace http://cnsnews.com/news/article/michael-w-chapman/flashback-morgan-freeman-ending-racism-stop-talking-about-it. Morgan is older and actually had life experience with slavery. His advice was to not use “racism” as excuse for failure, but to press on and succeed at whatever you want to do.
” I have been to Chicago(research the gang violence, more than 1 homicide per day”
Shay and I were BORN, have GROWN UP and LIVED in Black Chicago for most of our lives. Trust me, we know WAAAAAAY more about it than your fly-by-night White ass.
“I don’t see how the impoverished/uneducated opinion got formed. ”
When White people like you want to bandy about “gang violence” in Chicago, you’re automatically implying an impoverished, blighted area. Or do you think there’s as much potential for “gang violence” in Portland or Beverly Hills as much as evil, ol’ nigrah Chicago? You tried to paint Shay as some sort of refugee from the untamed, savage wilds of nigrah Chicago with this gem, “You moved to Maine, which I assume was not for the culture, or climate, but for the job and/or safety.” If you were really concerned about “gang violence” in Chicago instead of using it at an anti-Black jab, you’d research WHY it actually is (hint: it’s not because Black people are just violent, animal, sub-human thugs).
What would I have done? I’d have at least asked Shay and her family if they were okay, maybe offered to buy them lunch or something simply so they could sit down and recover. I’d be doing this while my White HUSBAND ran off with Shay’s son to at least get a license plate (because, unlike you, he throws skin in the game). I’d do that because I’ve been in Shay’s situation and had the same reaction from White people, awkward civil inattention, trying to avoid my gaze, letting me know that it was now MY presence that made them uncomfortable, not what had been done to me. I’d have appreciated at least someone asking me if I was okay.
And you’re not bringing anyone here with any historical revelations that there was slavery in other societies. I don’t know why you derailing White people keep using lines from the same playbook because Black people have heard them ALL ad infinitum. But what we are talking about and referencing are “[y]our white ancestors atrocities to the African slaves children or relatives in this scenario.” Try to keep up and stay on topic.
And if you want to know Shay’s point of view, you can read her blog. Here it is, her point of view. Magic! Shay has a whole life of her own including a family and kids. She doesn’t have time to teach some White man who only asked in bad faith so he could debate her and tell her she’s nothing but some refugee from run-down, nigrah Chicago who should be grateful the nice White folks of Maine only called her and her kids niggers and let them live in their great, White state even though they’re bringing D Money, Shifty and Smoothy (does the latter make daiquiris) from nigrah Chicago with them to knock up White chicks. AND do that exhausting, soul-destroying work for FREE too.
And White people need to stop throwing Morgan Freeman in Black folks’ faces as a way to tell us to shut up about the racism we constantly face. First off, no one, and especially not Black folk, elected him King of the Negroes so he can’t decree a damn thing to the rest of us. Secondly, it’s no accomplishment at all to find some Black person willing to coon out and buckdance for White approval especially in America. This country has spend 400 years telling us we weren’t human and only niggers. White people canNOT be shocked that a lot of that TOOK. White people canNOT be shocked that so many Black folks express self-hatred and anti-Blackness and are White-identified. There are TONS of Black folks who’d spit on their own grandmas for a pat on the head from White people so finding one is not a rare gem at all.
And no one twisted anything from you. You’re just so unoriginally transparent and your “arguments” so hackneyed that your game was peeped quick.
And unless Morgan is at least 150 years old, he doesn’t remember US slavery.
Someone else that just doesn’t get it.
They are never “just words”
Shay. So pleased that when I first became aware of your column at the “other rag”…. you turned out to be the real thing and are continuing on to be so authentic and real to us in your amazing blogs . And about this email … beats me, too ! Just another example of the very ignorance of most New Englanders of whatever socioeconomic status to anything and everything racist- history, people caught in its snare etc. Probably coming as much of a shock to me as to find myself at the Augusta WalMart in 2005- 06, newly arrived in Maine and staring at nothing but waves of pale white skin.
Just to set the record straight I am as about as white as you can get —- no African (sorry about that , Jerry Talbot … I sure would have loved to claim you as a China ME cousin) , Indian (native or Indo) or Asian, etc. . Just totally Northern European – British / Irish/ German/French and a touch of Norwegian . I am ever so thankful that my mother’s Maine family left these parts after 11th generations to migrate down to the upper south at the same time that my father’s family, second generation American, left New Jersey to land in the upper south as well. My southern childhood was a complex maze of ironies – a black maid better educated than my own parents; my father’s mostly black workforce. chosen because they were his most reliable employees in his moving and storage business — yet when the trucks were delayed would joke and eat supper out of pork and bean cans; rather than having to deal with being served out of the back door of the “Greasy Food Joint” next door. And my white school – so much better equipped than the black one that I passed by daily. . As a fifth grader sensing the stupidity of it all, I debated the total stupidity of it all — and continue to do so even today. I wish that my fellow white Americans would get off your asses and at least attempt to see what you have done to such an amazing group of people in this nation and continue to do so— over what — darker pigmentation. Crazy !
I live in Augusta, ME, all I can say it sucks. Prefer Portland over the capital dump Augusta.
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